Poem: The Third Day


They never seem to mention the rain

but I felt it,

first as a fine bloom

on my skin,

a freshening;

then came the grinding sound

of a great stone moved aside

very early in the morning,

while it was still dark.

There was no moon

but footsteps told me

someone was hesitating through the olive trees

and then the shattering of something on the ground

and the air all perfume,

and words

− a woman and a man −

and silence

and her sudden, visceral howl

of joy

and the rain exploded

from a burst membrane,

sluicing the night away.


First published in The Open Ear

the journal of the Seamus Heaney Centre, Queen’s University, Belfast

I see this poem as a follow-on from this one below:


I am a woman standing

At the edge of a dry trench

Knowing no water will come.


My body funnelled children in its time

But I’d have whelped them in this ditch

Sooner than have them face an end like his.


His mother planted herself firm.

They cursed her away but

She stood

As though it was her hands, her feet,

They’d nailed him to.


The sun has laboured all today

Till it collapsed.


I am a woman standing

At the edge of a pointless

Scrape in the dust.


We had hoped. We had hope

Some tide would turn

But the powerful harness all power to their ends.

Death is their servant,

Sniggering as he snuffs the candles out.


Death wrung from him

A cry

When all his meaning had been sucked

Out. He broke like a dry bone.

Like any man.


But even then

I heard him whisper,


A child turning up

For the absentee.


Lights flare now from the governor’s house.

Uproar in the barracks.


I am a woman standing

With nothing.

All I can do.

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